Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Civil Rights and Vitamin D

Me and my daughter Kate.
Since I originally posted this blog five years ago, there have been many significant updates to same sex adoption and equality. But even with the Supreme Court's passing marriage equality for all, Family Equality Council still strongly recommends that same sex married couples still go through the process of adopting their own children.

In many states there is still a lack of clarity around who the second parent is with regard to same sex couples. While it is always presumed that the husband is the legal father of a child, regardless of whether he is or is not, a particular county or a particular hospital may not issue a birth certificate with married same sex parents listed in the parent fields.

In New York State, Sarah and I are listed as 'Parent' and 'Parent' of Thomas and Kate. We were forced to revoke the title of 'Mother' when petitioning for adoption, a point that sticks in my craw because I am Thomas' and Kate's mother. Thomas and Kate have two mothers. Just like some of their friends have a mother and a father, who get to be listed on their children's birth certificates as such.

If you look at the birth certificates of Kim Davis' children, she is listed as the mother. Just stating facts.

Take a spin down memory lane, and if nothing else, look how little baby Kate is in these photos:

Originally posted November 23, 2010:

My partner, Sarah, gave birth to our daughter, Kate, in February, 2009.  Please note, I refer to Kate as our daughter, because I consider her to be mine too.  I was the first person to ever see her enter the world.  And I watched her take her first breath.  I held her hand while she lay under the heat lamp in the delivery room.  She was struggling with her breathing, and I could tell something was wrong.  So I stayed right by her side while the nurses busily cleaned and measured her.  She coughed up some liquid that was stuck in her lungs.  Everyone assured me it was a totally normal occurrence, but I had a complete heart attack and thought something was wrong, just like a mother would, instinctually.

Anyway.  The state I live in doesn't consider me her mother.  Or even her parent, for that matter.  She's got cousins in California she's never met before who actually have more legal rights to her than I do.  I'm the one who changes her poopie diapers every day, and the one who takes her to the park with her brother, and the one who marches around the Music Together class holding her hand.  But some people she's never met in California could take her away from me if I don't pay a lawyer several thousand dollars to help me legally adopt her.

Did you know that if a single mother gives birth to her baby, she can fill out the birth certificate upon being released from the hospital and put any Tom, Dick or Harry down as the biological father?  And his name will appear, just like that, on that child's birth certificate as its father?  Good to know, right? 

When I gave birth to Thomas, I wrote Sarah's name into the box reserved for "fathers," just to see how they'd issue it.  When the birth certificate came in the mail, it listed father as unknown.  I guess the issuing office caught on that most men aren't named Sarah.

So, in order to adopt my own daughter, I have to provide the state with the following:
  • A certified letter from the donor bank confirming that I purchased donor specimen
  • A certified letter from my fertility doctor confirming I underwent a procedure to get pregnant
  • A notarized letter from my doctor confirming I am mentally capable of caring for my own daugter
  • Anotarized letter from my doctor confirming I am physically capable of caring for my own daughter
  • A social worker visit to my house confirming it's a safe environment for my daughter (and son) to be raised in.
  • Finger printed.  I have to go down to the police station and get finger printed. 
That's not even everything I have to do, but it's all I can bare to list.  And Sarah's got to do all the same things so she can adopt her son.  And, of course, all of this costs a lot of money.  I mean, money we're willing to spend.  But I'm just sayin'.  Why don't we just give me my Civil Rights already so I don't have to spend my days racing around getting certified letters and physicals and finger printed. Not to mention wasting some social workers time coming out to my totally regular, normal, healthy, loving, house where my babies are being raised by two mothers who adore them, surrounded by cousins and neighbors and grandparents and aunts and uncles who equally adore them.  Talk about a waste of time and tax payer money.

Here's the silver lining...

I went for a physical for the first time in about a hundred years so the doctor could tell me and the court that I'm healthy enough to raise the babies I'm already in the process of raising.  And the doctor found that I have a vitamin D deficiency.  How random is that?  That's the sunlight vitamin.  I live in a beach town, for heaven's sake.  I guess I should stop slathering on the sunblock.

Anyway, I found this great vitamin D supplement that bundles itself with omega 3s, all in one pill!  I've been meaning to start taking omega 3s, so this is a total win/win for me.  If it weren't for my Civil Rights deficiency, I'd never have known about my vitamin D deficiency.

Silver lining, indeed...

ps-Kate's cousins from California will be here for Thanksgiving.  So they won't be total strangers anymore.  But I guarantee you they won't be changing any of her poopie diapers while they're here.  Again, just sayin'.

Me and my daughter Kate.


  1. FINGER PRINTED.... (fine, still not over this apparently.....)

    i think i might get turrets from being so damaged by this information....

    it's great you are tossing out this information (though I am a million more times sorry that you even have to go through any of this nonesense)... i don't think most people know what a gay lady or gay lad have to do to adopt their own kids... at least i didn't know and the sweet baby knows that i like to think i know a lot about being gay these days...

  2. Imagine if EVERY parent had to go through this...

  3. i don't even know where to begin to comment. this breaks my heart to see and read what you and Sarah have to go through. I'm so glad you're giving everyone insight on this. to say i'm sorry doesn't begin to cover it I know, but I am. This just absolutely sucks and I agree with Liz, it's just complete and utter nonsense. I don't understand our country. I never will. You have every right to be mom to Kate. It's just pathetic that in this day and age it's still an issue. You pay taxes, you vote, and this is the thanks that you and Sarah get? Really America? Really? Anyhooters I could go on and on but let me just say again thank you for doing what you're doing and giving us insight. I just hope the US can get it's head out of its ass. It has to at some point.

    The finger printed line floored me too Liz.. I mean everything Smiley wrote floored me but THAT just made me want to punch a wall.

    Hugs to you guys..

  4. We went through this same process -- I think we also had to list all our financial assets. I will never forget having to write a check to a social worker in my home who was there to advise the court on whether we could be our own children's parents. It's outrageous. Our daughter recently asked if we had ever been finger-printed or been in the police station - and we had to explain that we had but only for her adoption.

    In California, gay families can use the same process step- parents use to adopt children where the courts just rubber-stamp the decision of the birth parent. In other words, gay parents decisions are respected as any parent's decision would be.

    But, you need the legal connection to your own children so we all jump through these hoops for them. The irony is that we are lucky in some twisted sense to even have this right - gay parents in the vast majority of states do not. It's one more reason we need the civil right to get married. And one more reason to keep insisting on living our very normal, very ordinary, very Music Together, very regular suburban lives.

  5. i heart you so much for this! x

  6. Makes me just wanna scream. I wanna scream and cry and kick the bleep outta the lawmakers.

    Those heaven hunks are so loved and adored and AMAZING and its all because of their mothers. They are living in a perfect family environment. I see what kids have to live with every day. My students should be so lucky to have mothers like you and,Sarah.

    Drug addicts/abusers/deadbeats are allowed to raise children no questions asked. Until its too late and the children have to be taken away. Waste of time and money.

    I seriously want to cry.

  7. This is so frustrating to read, but yet necessary at the same time. I think it can only help the cause if more people can put themselves in a situation to empathize with what you and Sarah, and of course gay couples in general, have to go through to become a family. Things have to change, and the only way for that to happen is for people to share things like this so that the ones who are so against it can grasp it on a human level. It won't be easy or happen overnight, but it can happen. Hopefully by the time Thomas and Kate are adults, we'll be there. Thank you for sharing this.

    In regards to the Vitamin D deficiency, that must be the new thing...my doc told me I have that too at one of my recent visits. He suggested some sunlight as well, but I couldn't get him to prescribe me a paid vacation on a tropical island. I suppose if sunshine came in a pill form with a bunch of chemicals tossed in, he'd be all about that. Oh well.

    Best of luck to you, Sarah, and the little ones. You guys seem to have a great family and friend support, as well as us, your devoted fans who will continue to send out as many good intentions as we possibly can!

    Take care and Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. I watched an ex-partner of mine go through this process to adopt her son several years ago. Basically, it came down to a certain unemployed, drug addicted in-law having more custodial rights than she did.

    It's astounding that any completely dysfunctional derelict, living in squalor can have legal rights to their kids while same-sex parents are required to shell out large quantities of money to "PROVE" that they're worthy and capable of caring for their children.

    From my perspective, the legal headaches don't compare to the peace of mind that you'll have if a distant relative has a psychotic breakdown and decides that God/Allah/Jehovah/whatever told them they must "save" your kids from your "immoral lifestyle".

    Are the legal demands ridiculous? Yes, absolutely. Is it worthwhile to make the adoptions legal. Yes, absolutely...

    Best wishes to you, your family and AR.
    Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

  9. un. be. lievable.
    glad you found out about your vitaminDficiency though. and omega3s are good for ya! : )

  10. i was going to blog the same thing but ive been filling out a questionnaire about the home im providing with my loving partner for my loving son so that we can be his legal parents! nice work hendo. well said. right behind you.


  11. I hear you Kristen. Shirley and I have the same issues with our kids. We have all these papers, trusts, wills, etc that cost a ton of money just so we can protect ourselves and our kids. FYI. Vitamin D deficiency is now very common. I'm guessing they have a better way of testing for it now.

  12. patti elder scharf **sea cliffNovember 24, 2010 at 12:01 AM

    As I love the honesty of this blog, I'm saddened to know I have friends that have to go thru "testing" to be legally noted as a parent. (I'm having a hard time getting passed the fingerprinting too). Truely a wake up call for me and scary. Scary because the state has so much of a say.

    I'm definitely getting people together to write letters and campaign against the state for acting as a "dictator".
    Not to mention being theiffs. (All the $ made ).

    I'm married to my husband Charles and we have a little girl. What's to say one day the state will take away my husband's rights as a father because he didn't carry her during pregnancy. As stupid as it sounds, so is this whole thing the state chooses to throw around just for control and money.

    Hendo you are a mother to your son and your daughter and same goes for Sarah. No one can change that.

  13. Thanks for all these great, supportive and insightful posts by everyone. I'm not the most politically active person, mainly because I'm so busy changing diapers and working - but I do know what my family has to go through right now and I thought if I just told our story like it is, it might be an insightful thing for most people...and by default it makes me politically active! Whoop, look at me!

    I especially want to give a shout out to all my Sea Cliff neighbors/friends who have posted either here or with a thumbs up on my FB page. I'm grateful to live in a community that treats me and my family just like any other typical, everyday surburban bunch. My family will always have a nitrate free turkey dog available for you and your kids, and a patch of dog poop free grass for you to play on. And some nice cold IPAs in the fridge for the grown ups.

    As for fingerprinting, I do believe most adoptions require fingerprinting - gay or straight. My point regarding fingerprinting is that if I was allowed to legally marry my person
    I wouldn't need to adopt my own child. If society could shift their thinking just a half inch (or so) to the left on this one particular topic (tea partiers shift left maybe a foot or two) they'd understand why me having to adopt my own child AT ALL is just plain stoopit.

    For example - if a straight couple had a child using a donor, which actually does happen, the father would not have to adopt his own child. Even if they weren't legally married, the mother could still list her male partner as the father. No fingerprinting or visits from social workers.

    All that being said, wait 'til my blog on baptizing the babies. Just kidding, mom. I won't blog about it. There's a section on it in the book, though...shameless book plug - Times Two, out April 5, 2011!!!!


  14. so I'm a little late to this party, and I knew how difficult it is for two moms to legally be two moms, but damn, I still cried when I read this.
    I cried for you and your family, and for all families that have to go through this intrusive and wasteful process.
    Times they are a changing though ... and I have a dream, that one day, we will all be truly considered equal.

    PS: I love the pics of you and Kate.

  15. Unbelievable. I'm tearing up just reading it and cannot in a million years imagine going through all that shit. Talk about a violation of privacy, to have to have someone come and *watch* you in your own home. I'm shaking my head in disbelief.

    RE: Vitamin D- not sure if it's true but once heard if you sit in a sunlit window for 10 minutes, it helps increase Vitamin D.

  16. Kristen,
    After reading your blog and finding myself getting frustrated by the lack of Civil Rights in regards to your situation. I immediately resolved myself with a calmness. The fact that "we" are even talking about this via your blog is great. More importantly, the fact that Simon and Schuster has given you the opportunity to reach so many, will help move these issues to the forefront. I believe your book will not only be a forum to share your comical experiences (which you seeem to excel in), but your book will significantly change how people think about these important issues! Although you have friends, family and fans in the LGBT community, you also have many others that this will reach out to. Your book not only has the opportunity to reach millions, but it has the opportunity to change how people think and possibly help change laws.

    What you are doing here Kristen, is HUGE, and I am thrilled that you decided to do this.
    I hope you and your entire family enjoy a safe, healthy, magical & of course, musical Thanksgiving holiday!
    All my best,
    Linda Lewis

  17. and this is why i love you. because i would have written sarah's name under father as well. just to test the system. see if anyone was paying attention. do you sometimes feel like you're a sheep amongst sheep, but you're the only one wearing a banana suit? it's fucking bullshit.

  18. This is so wrong and I remain perplexed as to the belief by anyone that it's not. Though I haven't met you (well, just a smidgen on the interweb, if that counts) or Sarah, I feel proud of you both for providing a loving home for your son and daughter. I wish you all the best and hope that, one day soon, everyone will be granted his or her inalienable rights. (With due respect to Thomas Jefferson, I had to correct that! ;)) Take care! - Scott

  19. This is so wrong and I remain perplexed as to the belief by anyone that it's not. Though I haven't met you (well, just a smidgen on the interweb, if that counts) or Sarah, I feel proud of you both for providing a loving home for your son and daughter. I wish you all the best and hope that, one day soon, everyone will be granted his or her inalienable rights. (With due respect to Thomas Jefferson, I had to correct that! ;)) Take care! - Scott

  20. Makes me a little glad that Erica and I do not live in NY.....When we had Ryleigh the whole parental birth certificate thing was pretty painless....They came in and asked the names of the parents, were a little confused as to how to fill out the pre-printed form, but ultimately we were mailed a birth certificate where shockingly I was named as Parent #1...much to Erica's disappointment as she carried Ryleigh for 37.5 weeks and endured 36 hours of labor!!!
    But here we are, 3 years later, expecting twins of our own, and we are alerted to a "new" procedure.....Pre-registering for your birth certificate...where the form clearly says to fill in Mother and Father info. Nevermind that this is sort of taboo for Erica to think of completing such a form before we have a baby, or babies, in our arms....but her other complaint was that this for "does not correctly represent our family"....In amongst the apologies, we were given the solution of crossing out father and writing in the word "parent".
    So luckily, my name is on the birth certificate....but it was still "recommended" that we pay a lawyer to file the paperwork for Erica to surrender her maternal rights so that both of us can "adopt" our child/ren....it is ridiculous.....especially considering how financially stressful it is just to get pregnant to have kids.
    Kristen (& Sarah), I applaud that you are jumping through the hoops they have put in front of you instead of just saying "f*ck it"....It will make such an impact on Thomas and Kate....and maybe the more gay couples who are willing to do all of these silly things increases, those who make the rules will see how truly silly it all is!!!
    Looking forward to the book release....figure it will get me through the night time feedings X2!!!

  21. My wife and I are about to start trying to conceive, and our lawyer tells us that both of our names will appear on the NY birth certificate - BUT, that it won't carry any legal weight, and that my wife will still have to adopt as a step-parent (not second parent, since we're married in CT). I wonder if this is new, and why they didn't allow Sarah's name to appear on the birth certificate when you gave birth.

    The whole process is so frustratingly unfair. We have to jump through additional hoops all because we have a known donor; despite doing so through a cryobank, they won't allow him to give up his parental rights until the baby is born - a totally different standard from using an unknown donor.

    We know that it will all be totally worth it in the end, but it's still infuriating.

  22. New York passed something in Jaunary, 2009 just prior to our babies being born. Kate & Thomas were born in February and the hospitals didn't have the correct forms for same sex families to fill out yet...In fact, the nurses had no idea what we were even talking about. We write a bit about it in the book. And yes, our lawyer advised the very same thing. Regardless of what the birth certificate reads, we'd need to go through the adoption process to be as safe as possible, but even that might not matter in a state that does not recognize same sex second parent adoptions.

    But your taxes are still due on April 15th, just like mine. And you'll owe more because you're not actually married even though you are in CT. M.I.N.D.B.O.G.G.L.I.N.G.


  23. This came up in my Time Hop today. I read it and cried all over again. I'd have never been able to adopt my own children. My house was always mess and could to this day, be considered a safety hazard.
    I wonder how many of these problems marriage equality has actually solved. ::sigh::